This is week nine of the legislative session and “cross over” is well underway with several bills moving on to the other chamber.
Public hearings are the best chance to communicate with committee members and share your opinion. The Legislative Office Building (LOB) is located immediately behind the State House at 33 N. State Street in Concord. For senate bills, sign the white sheet on a side table just inside the door to indicate your support or opposition for a bill, and if you intend to speak. The protocol is a little different in the House. The public may sign the blue sheet near the room entrance to indicate support or opposition to any bill; fill out a pink card if you intend to speak. If possible, provide written copies for each member plus the committee secretary. If you are unable to attend hearings email the committee, or better yet, call them individually and indicate if you are a constituent.
Some bills are scheduled for executive session which is when the committee discusses and votes on legislation. The public has until then to make an impact on the committee’s recommendation which is very influential when the entire chamber votes. Exec sessions may happen anytime after the public hearing closes so prompt action is encouraged.
Last week was a major one for the full NH House and Senate as they finalized bills originating in their chambers. Consequently there is just one bill before the Senate this week that has a major school choice impact. This is when all 24 senators have the opportunity to vote YEA (to support the committee’s recommendation) or NAY (to oppose the recommendation). Please contact your legislators before the session day with brief, polite messages and mention you are a constituent. Look for more in the coming few weeks.
As always, contact information is at the end of the article.
MONDAY, MARCH 13, 2017: HOUSE FINANCE, ROOM 210-211 LOB
Executive session for the following bill
10:00 a.m. ***HB 647, establishing education freedom savings accounts for children with disabilities
position — SUPPORT
information — Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) are funds that children receive to a designated account that are used for specified educational purposes. This particular ESA is limited to students with a disability – children with IEPs or 504 plans. While ESAs are new to New Hampshire, they are not new to other states. Currently five states offer ESA programs and each is unique with respect to the approved uses, eligibility qualifications, administration, accountability mechanisms, and funding sources. The two established programs in Arizona and Florida have been immensely successful. They put an expanded range of educational services and options within reach, particularly for low-income families who face the greatest challenges financing their children’s educational needs. ESAs have withstood constitutional challenges and enrollment is optional. The Cato Institute and EdChoice representatives testified that the state and districts would have savings if the ESA amount is less than the variable cost of an education. Read more in Education Savings Accounts: The Next Evolution of School Choice. For more info on the evidence of school choice programs, read A Win-Win Solution by EdChoice.
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 15, 2017: HOUSE EDUCATION, ROOM 207 LOB
Public hearings for the following bills
9:45 a.m. SB 45, requiring a course in civics for high school graduation
10:15 a.m. SB 101-FN, relative to enrollment eligibility for regional career and technical education programs
11:00 a.m. SB 104, relative to career and technical education
1:00 p.m. SB 103, limiting food and beverage advertising and marketing on school property
1:45 p.m. ***SB 43, relative to non-academic surveys administered by a public school to its students
position — SUPPORT
information — This bill has been in the works for quite some time. HB 206 (2015) created a bi-partisan study committee to examine the numerous non-academic surveys given to our students, and SB 320 (2016) would have required active consent for all surveys, with the exception of the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS). Although SB 320 passed the House and Senate, it was vetoed by Gov. Hassan. The committees received evidence that many non-academic surveys include personal questions, and contrary to current law, students are sometimes required to share this information in class when it is not optional nor anonymous. SB 43 adds the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) from the federal Center for Disease Control to the list of surveys that would require active parental consent (opt in). Although the YRBS allows both active and passive consent, undoubtedly school officials and representatives of many social programs will again argue that student privacy is a necessary loss in order to produce higher participation rates and secure funding. The ends do not justify the means. Although some students may benefit from the social programs, it does not justify ignoring current statute, privacy concerns, and parents’ rights to direct their under-age children’s education. For more information including instances of required participation in these questionnaires, read Non-Academic Surveys and Parents’ Rights.
2:15 p.m. *SB 44, prohibiting the state from requiring implementation of common core standards
position — SUPPORT
information — This is the same language as SB 101 (2015) that passed the House and Senate only to be vetoed by Gov. Hassan. This is a clear and simple bill that expressly prohibits the state from mandating Common Core standards thereby protecting local control and educational diversity.
3:00 p.m. ***SB 8-FN, relative to school attendance in towns with no public schools
position — SUPPORT
information — This is the senate version of HB 557, the town tuitioning bill as originally written, that would allow small districts to make agreements with other public school districts or private schools if the grade-level is not offered in-district. This bill is a return of the Committee of Conference language of HB 1637 (2016) that passed the House and Senate only to be vetoed by Gov. Hassan. It clarifies existing statutes that small towns across the state that do not provide full K through 12 education in-district may enter into tuition agreements with other schools. It is consistent with RSA 194:22 and RSA 193:1. It is also in line with practices by NH districts that have tuition agreements with private schools, even some located out of state. For additional information, read Town Tuitioning in Croydon, Options for Small Towns, and Governor Vetoes School Choice that references the 2016 bill.
THURSDAY, MARCH 16, 2017: SENATE SESSION, Senate Chamber at 10:00am
***SB 193-FN, establishing education freedom savings accounts for students
committee recommendation — Ought to Pass, vote 4-1 (Senate Finance)
position — YEA on OTP, SUPPORT the bill
information — Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) are funds that children receive to a designated account that are used for specified educational purposes. While ESAs are new to New Hampshire, they are not new to other states. Currently five states offer ESA programs and each is unique with respect to the approved uses, eligibility qualifications, administration, accountability mechanisms, and funding sources. The two established programs in Arizona and Florida have been immensely successful. They put an expanded range of educational services and options within reach, particularly for low-income families who face the greatest challenges financing their children’s educational needs. ESAs have withstood constitutional challenges and enrollment is optional. The Cato Institute and EdChoice representatives testified that the state and districts would have savings if the ESA amount is less than the variable cost of an education. Read more in Education Savings Accounts: The Next Evolution of School Choice. For more info on the evidence of school choice programs, read A Win-Win Solution by EdChoice.
The Senate and House Education Committee members with contact information is available here. Brief phone calls are most effective, but personalized emails directed to an individual are also helpful; mention if you are a constituent. Personal stories and messages are helpful. At the bottom we’ve supplied a list of the House committee members’ emails for an easy copy/paste.
To find your NH senator, and his or her contact information, refer to the senate’s roster page, or you can email all of them at email@example.com.
To contact the entire House Education Committee, you may send one email to HouseEducationCommittee@leg.state.nh.us. Below is a list of the House Education Committee members’ emails for an easy copy/paste.[table “5” not found /]
To contact the entire House Finance Committee, you may send one email to HouseFinanceCommittee@leg.state.nh.us. Below is the list of the members’ contact information as well as a simplified email list for an easy copy/paste.[table “7” not found /]